Freehold, New Jersey Revolutionary War Sites
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REVOLUTIONARY WAR SITES IN FREEHOLD, NEW JERSEY

Freehold NJ Historic Sites
MONMOUTH BATTLE MONUMENT
Monmouth Battle Monument
Historic Sites in Freehold, NJ

Monmouth Battle Monument
Court Street and Monument St
Map / Directions to the Monmouth Battle Monument
Map / Directions to all Freehold Revolutionary War Sites

The Battle of Monmouth
June 28, 1778

The Battle of Monmouth was the longest continuous battle of the Revolutionary War. It took place on a brutally hot summer day. Fighting began here in the morning and shifted to the west, to land on what is now Monmouth Battlefield State Park.

Details about the battle can be found in the Monmouth Battlefield State Park entry on the Manalapan page.

Details about several historic sites in Freehold associated with the battle are shown in the entries below on this page.

Freehold New Jersey in the Revolutionary War
The Monument [1]

Standing at over 90-feet tall, the Monmouth Battle Monument is quite impressive. It stands in a field in front of the current Monmouth County Courthouse building. Work began on the monument when its cornerstone was laid on June 28, 1878, the one hundredth anniversary of the battle. The cornerstone was laid by Civil War General George B. McClellan, who was then serving as New Jersey Governor.

Work continued on the monument for the next six years. It was unveiled in a ceremony on November 13, 1884. The ceremony was an elaborate affair, involving many dignitaries and elected officials. The New York Times reported that day that "Business will be suspended almost entirely in Monmouth County during the ceremonies to-day, and the entire State will contribute to the attendance."

The figure at the top is Columbia Triumphant or Liberty Triumphant. The original statue was hit by lightning and damaged in 1894; it was replaced with the statue now on top in 1896. The original 1894 statue now stands in Columbia Triumphant Park (see entry below).

Around The base of the monument are five scenes from the battle depicted in bas-relief, sculpted by artist James Edward Kelly (1855-1933).

 
Council of War at Hopewell
Washington Rallying the Troops
Ramsay Defending his Guns
Molly Pitcher
Wayne's Charge
Revolutionary War Sites in Freehold
COLUMBIA TRIUMPHANT PARK
Columbia Triumphant
Columbia Triumphant

Columbia Triumphant Park
On Main St. next to the Hall of Records.
Map / Directions to Columbia Triumphant Park
Map / Directions to all Freehold Revolutionary War Sites

 

On August 15, 1894, a decade after the Monmouth Battle Monument was dedicated, the statue at the top of Columbia Triumphant or Liberty Triumphant was damaged by lightning. Two weeks later, a newspaper article reported: [2]

"A few nights ago the Monmouth battle monument was struck by lightning. The large statue of 'Liberty Triumphant' which crowns the monument was hit by the bolt and the toes of the left foot which projected over the edge of the top of the monument were broken off. The cap stone was also split in two pieces, the ends of the break including about one-third of the circumference of the big stone. A piece of it was also cracked off and thrown to the ground."

The statue was replaced in 1896 by a replica. The damaged original was repaired with the intention of displaying it by the Monmouth Courthouse, (now the Hall of Records. See next entry below.) However, the placement did not occur at the time, and the statue ended up discarded and forgotten until it was discovered by a junk dealer during the 1940's in a pile of debris. He retrieved the two-ton statue and took it to his home in Lakewood, NJ, where it was displayed for decades.

In 2000, money was raised to purchase the statue from its owner and return it to Freehold. The statue was then placed in the pocket park next to the Hall of Records. More than a century after the original idea, the statue did end up displayed in the area it was originally intended.

Much of the money had been raised by selling bricks. For a $100 contribution, donors chose an inscription for a brick placed in the walkway around the statue. [3]

At some point in the statue's travels, the statue's nose was broken off. [4]

Freehold New Jersey in the Revolutionary War
MONMOUTH COURT HOUSE SITE
At the Site of What is Now the Hall of Records
Site of Monmouth Court House
Historic Sites in Freehold, NJ
Site of Monmouth Court House
Historic Sites in Freehold, NJ

Monmouth Court House Site
Hall of Records
Main St. and Court St.
Map / Directions to the Monmouth Court House Site

Map / Directions to all Freehold Revolutionary War Sites

At the time when the Battle of Monmouth occurred, this area of Freehold was known as Monmouth Court House. In 1715, the courthouse for Monmouth County had been built at this site, and the village around it became known as Monmouth Court House. It was replaced by a second structure in 1719, which was itself destroyed in a 1727 fire. A third court house building was constructed circa 1731, and it was that court house building which was here at the time of the Battle of Monmouth. The earliest fighting of the battle occurred near the courthouse.

The Revolutionary War era courthouse building was replaced circa 1806 by a fourth courthouse, which would be used until 1954. During that time, the building was damaged by four fires, and repairs, renovations and expansions were made to the building. In 1954, it was replaced by the new courthouse which stands by the Monmouth Battle Monument. The old courthouse building became the Hall of Records. [5]

A boulder plaque in front of the Hall of Records commemorates this as the site of the Revolutionary War era Monmouth Court House, and its use as a hospital after the Battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778.

Revolutionary War Sites in Freehold
COVENHOVEN HOUSE
Covenhoven House
General Henry Clinton Headquarters
Covenhoven House
150 West Main St.
Map / Directions to the Covenhoven House
Map / Directions to all Freehold Revolutionary War Sites
For more information about visiting the Covenhoven House, see the
Monmouth County Historical Association website

From June 26 - 28, 1778, just prior to the Battle of Monmouth, British General Henry Clinton commandeered this house as his headquarters while British troops encamped in the area. The house's owner was a 74-year-old widow named Elizabeth Covenhoven. Elizabeth was an unwilling host to Clinton, and she later testified that she had her horses and cows taken from her by British troops, as well as many of her possessions. Her deposition states that "though a very old woman, she was obliged to sleep on a cellar door in her milk room for two nights, and when she applied for only a coverlet it was refused her.: That by the time they went away her house was stripped of her beds, bedding, the cloaths of her whole family, and every thing of any value." [6]

Revolutionary War Sites in Freehold
ST. PETERS EPISCOPAL CHURCH
St. Peter's Church - Freehold NJ
Freehold in the Revolutionary War

St. Peter's Episcopal Church
33 Throckmorton St.
Map / Directions to the St. Peter's Church
Map / Directions to all Freehold Revolutionary War Sites

This church building was here at the time of the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, but it was not fully constructed. Construction had begun on the building in 1771, and at the time of the battle, the outer walls were constructed but the inside was not completed. The church's website states that "St. Peter’s is the oldest public building in continuous use in the Borough of Freehold."

Local tradition says the building was used as a hospital during the Battle of Monmouth by the British. Whether or not that tradition is correct, the building was certainly here when the fighting began. [7]

Freehold New Jersey in the Revolutionary War
MONMOUTH COUNTY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
Monmouth County Historical Association
Historic Sites in Freehold, NJ
Daughters of the American Revolution

Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court St.
Map / Directions to the Monmouth County Historical Society
Map / Directions to all Freehold Revolutionary War Sites

Monmouth County Historical Association website
732-462-1466

The Monmouth County Historical Association has a collection of items from the Battle of Monmouth. Emanuel Leutze's 1857 painting, Washington at the Battle of Monmouth, hangs in the main hall. This is the smaller of two copies of the painting made by Leutze.

On the grounds of the building, there is a boulder monument, placed by Monmouth Court House Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, that pays tribute to their ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Freehold New Jersey in the Revolutionary War

Source Notes:

1. ^ Information about the monument's size, sculptures, history, and ceremonies was drawn from:

• "Monmouth's Battle Monument / The Ceremony of Unveiling to take Place To-Day," The New York Times, November 13, 1884
Available to be read on The New York Times website here

• "Monmouth County Historical Site / Monmouth Battle Monument" plaque at the monument, placed by the County of Monmouth

2. ^  "The Battle Monument Damaged," Red Bank Register, Volume XVII. No. 10, Aug 29, 1894, Page 5
Available as a PDF at the Red Bank Register Newspaper Archives on the Middletown Township Public Library website here

3. ^ Information drawn from:

M.C.K., Freehold Transcript, May 20, 1965 "Early Statue Atop Monmouth Battle Monument Now Graces Summer Garden" Page 6

Dick Metzger, "Historic Statue Slated for Return to Freehold," Independent, February 9, 2000, pages 17 and 20

Help Build A Part of Monmouth County's History, Purchase a Brick! Liberty Triumphant Fund flyer, March 2000

I would like to thank Debbie Carmody of the Monmouth County Historical Association, who took the time to speak with me about this statue and provide me with copies of these three documents.

4. ^ A plaque on the statue's base explains, "The figure's nose was broken at an unknown time in its long, harsh and much- traveled past. In keeping with recognized conservation practice, the nose is not repaired as the break is part of the statue's history."

5. ^Barbara Pepe, Freehold: A Hometown History (Charleston, Arcadia Publishing, 2003) pages 21-27

6. ^ Deposition of Elizabeth Covenhoven, taken July 30, 1778 (thirty-two days after the Battle of Monmouth)
New Jersey Gazette
Vol 1, No 36, August 12, 1778, reprinted in:
Francis B. Lee, editor, Archives of the State of New Jersey, Second Series, Vol II (Documents Relating to the Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey | Extracts from American Newspapers relating to New Jersey) (Trenton: John L. Murphy Publishing Company, 1903) pages 343-344
Available to be read at Google Books here

For another contemporary accounts of Clinton's occupation of the house, see:
"Extract of a letter from Monmouth, dated July 18" [twenty days after the Battle of Monmouth]
New Jersey Gazette
Vol 1, No 35, August 5 1778, reprinted in:
Francis B. Lee, editor, Archives of the State of New Jersey, Second Series, Vol II (Documents Relating to the Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey | Extracts from American Newspapers relating to New Jersey) (Trenton: John L. Murphy Publishing Company, 1903) pages 333-335
Available to be read at Google Books here
▸Note: The New Jersey Gazette did not identify the writer of the letter. However, the following 1846 book suggests that the letter was written by Colonel Thomas Henderson, who lived in the area and is buried in the Old Tennent Church cemetery

7. ^ Information about the church was drawn from:

Samuel Stelle Smith, The Battle of Monmouth (Monmouth Beach: Philip Freneau Press, 1964) page 5

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for St. Peter's Episcopal Church.
  Available as a PDF on the National Park Service website here.
▸ Those interested in architectural details about the church building, including renovations made over the years, are recommended to this document. It contains a great deal of information, as well as historic photos of the church

History page of the St. Peter's Episcopal Church website

Website Researched, Written, Photographed and Designed by Al Frazza
This website, its text and photographs are © 2009 -2017 Al Frazza. All rights reserved.